Nov 252011

Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies in conjunction with Queen Mary College has launched the Dissenting Academies Project.  It provides databases of academies in the 17th-19th centuries, principals, tutors, students and a “virtual” composite academies library from this period.

It is a huge resource of information on this topic and period but also provides a starting point for future research.

The earliest dissenting academies were established after the Restoration as a result of the 1662 Act of Uniformity, and were intended to provide Protestant students dissenting from the Church of England with a higher education similar to that at Oxford and Cambridge, from which they were largely excluded. Their main purpose was to prepare candidates for the ministry, but many educated lay students as well. They played a crucial role in ministerial and lay education: the tutors and the students they educated contributed in fundamental ways to the development of ideas, notably in the fields of theology, philosophy, literature, and science. In the nineteenth century the academies’ original purpose to provide a higher education was largely superseded by the founding of London and the provincial universities, which were open to dissenters, and by the eventual reform of Oxford and Cambridge.

© 2011 – 2012, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.

May 282009

Charles Surman’s biographical card index of Congregational ministers includes the names of about 32,000 individuals, and, where known, their dates, details of their education, ministries or other employment, together with the sources used. It covers the period from the mid-seventeenth century to 1972, and though it focuses on England and Wales, it includes Congregational ministers serving abroad provided they trained or served as ministers in Britain. Although intended as an index of Congregational ministers, it also gives details of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Presbyterians and some Baptists.

The index is available at

© 2009 – 2012, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.

May 272009

By the late REV. J. RYLAND

“What singing! what shouting! what heavenly greeting!
Shall there be, at that general, triumphant church-meeting.
Nor illness, nor business, nor length of the way, 
Shall keep from that meeting one brother away. 
Temptations, and trials, no more shall be known; 
Nor Satan, nor sin, shall e’er cause us to groan. 
Each shall tell his sweet story, nor need it be short, 
It will never be night, there’ll be time enough for’t. 
Each strange dispensation will be then understood, 
And we shall see clearly, all wrought for our good. 
May the foresight of glory constrain you and me,
To consider what persons we ought now to be! 
To pray for your brother, my dear friend, fail not, 
For, alas! you can’t think what a heart I have got! 
So stubborn! so stupid! so carnal! so cold! 
One half of its wickedness, cannot be told. 
But, Lord! thou dost know it; thou only canst bend it 
Oh, search it! and break it! and wash it! and mend it!”

Baptist Magazine, June, 1812.

© 2009 – 2012, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.